I am not a person who goes looking for strange and interesting aftermarket wheels online, so it came as a shock to me when I first laid eyes on these Mugen MD-Fs, the most unexpected tuner car wheels I had ever seen.

Finding information on the Mugen MD-F (or Mugen MDF depending on where you’re looking) is a bit of a challenge. Honda forum posts turn up every few years along the lines of “what the hell are these” and “just found a set of these and I’ve never seen them for sale before.”

The wheels themselves are interesting enough as it is. The first mention I can find of them is in this 1998 brochure from Mugen for all of its accessories for the Japanese-market Honda Accord wagon. Most of the wheels look like Mugen’s other wheels from the 1990s (that is, wonderful) and are all 15s or 16s. Then there’s the MD-F, an 18x7 towering over the rest of the catalog. One forum user with a chance to buy a rare set bemoaned that this setup is strange to the point of uselessness. “I have absolutely no use for them nor will I ever. They’re 18" and 4x114.3 which makes them useless to me and most of the people here.”

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They’re listed as twice as expensive as the mid-range wheel offered and one and a half times as much as the next most expensive wheel offered. A set ran you 84,000 yen, or something around $650 in 1998 money. Though they look heavy, one person with a set claims that they’re much lighter than you’d think thanks to being forged aluminum.

Finding out much else about the wheels is a challenge. Mugen showed them on the late 1990s Accord as well as on the HR-V in 1999.

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It makes the car look like a monster truck. It’s hard to see these pics and not think that they’ve been photoshopped. Man, the original HR-V was a neat looking car. I’m a little bummed we never got it in America. The small, tall crossover was ahead of its time, I guess.

Amazingly, Mugen also ran a set on its one-off Mugen SS2200, a 2.2-liter Honda S2000 concept car thing making a nice 258 horsepower and sporting a vintage kind of roadster aero back. Road & Track drove it in 2000 and was, uh, polite about it if not enamored.

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Image: R&T

The last time I find a mention of the wheel in a Mugen brochure is in 2003, so it seems like the wheel was only around for a few years around the turn of the century, which might account for their seeming rarity.

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They look insane. They look like “smoothies,” the classic hot rod aero-style wheel you’d see on 1950s salt flat racers and things. But it’s not on an old hot rod, it’s on a ‘90s Accord.

But there’s a lot of Japanese fascination for hot rod culture and Americana. Lowrider meets are huge. And there’s some other fun overlap as well. Naoki Nakamura, famously stylish drifter, used to rock a 1990s billet street rod-style steering wheel in his pink-and-purple Nissan S13 and is still always seen in giant, billowy pants that look like super baggy JNCO jeans but are actually a kind of traditional work pants.

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So in that way this tall, near-smoothie wheel from Mugen, the Honda super tuner house, makes some kind of sense.

But really, sense or not, I adore them and love that they exist and want every wheel collector on earth to rock a pair and experience the same sense of wonderment I got when I first saw them.